Red alert: silly scenes ensure Damp

27th June 2003 at 01:00
Health and safety is a big issue in design and technology as well as in science and PE . Teachers can carry out all sorts of health and safety assessments, but we have to make pupils think about these issues themselves.

We have lots of safety notices and talk a great deal about safe clothing , behaviour and equipment, but I have also devised some other strategies to get the message across. Sometimes I deliberately don't wear goggles or I commit some other infringement of the safety rules before using a piece of equipment. I will have told the pupils some time ago that they should tell me if I'm not behaving in a safe way. It keeps them aware of their own and others' failings.

Another strategy involves creating scenes in which the students are behaving in a silly way which ignores regulations, and then photographing them. So, for example, we might have a girl wearing goggles on her forehead and another with a sweatshirt round her neck with the arms hanging down, as they pretend to be talking to each other while using a potentially dangerous piece of machinery.

We might even stage an "accident" and take photos of a pupil on the floor in a pool of fake blood near equipment that's protruding dangerously from under a bench. The photos are made into a display and groups are asked to spot the deliberate mistakes. Although these activities have a serious purpose, they are fun and help the pupils identify with the situations better than doom-and-gloom speeches.

Maggie Laing, head of Damp;T, Grey Coat Hospital School, Westminster, London

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